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Diaspora Cartography: On the Rabbinic Background of Contemporary Ritual Eruv Practice

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[Abstract This essay takes as its starting point the observation that the earliest manifestation of the regulations concerning the eruv (hatzerot) can be found in the Mishnah (late second or early third century C.E.). A careful reading of the early rabbinic texts demonstrates that the eruv shapes a community’s relationship to the local space it inhabits in significant ways that are predicated neither on ownership nor on control over that space. Rather, that relationship is based on a set of negotiations with those who share the space, in rabbinic times predominantly neighbors, and later also jurisdictions. Further, as a tool of drawing symbolic Jewish maps, the rabbinic eruv enhances the concept of multidimensionality of space, as one map—a rabbinic map—of signification is superimposed on space without control over it. As such, the eruv is quintessentially the product of a diaspora imagination, not merely in a historical sense of a post-70 C.E. reality, but in the political sense of inhabiting a space that is shared with and even controlled by others., Abstract This essay takes as its starting point the observation that the earliest manifestation of the regulations concerning the eruv (hatzerot) can be found in the Mishnah (late second or early third century C.E.). A careful reading of the early rabbinic texts demonstrates that the eruv shapes a community’s relationship to the local space it inhabits in significant ways that are predicated neither on ownership nor on control over that space. Rather, that relationship is based on a set of negotiations with those who share the space, in rabbinic times predominantly neighbors, and later also jurisdictions. Further, as a tool of drawing symbolic Jewish maps, the rabbinic eruv enhances the concept of multidimensionality of space, as one map—a rabbinic map—of signification is superimposed on space without control over it. As such, the eruv is quintessentially the product of a diaspora imagination, not merely in a historical sense of a post-70 C.E. reality, but in the political sense of inhabiting a space that is shared with and even controlled by others.]

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/content/journals/10.1163/187180011x604616
2011-01-01
2015-05-04

Affiliations: 1: Stanford University

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